Small business really is big business especially when you get into the numbers. There are around 28 million small businesses up and running across the country. Those operations account for 54 percent of the total sales and provide 55 percent of all the jobs. This is why it is so vital that consumers support small businesses. As a small business owner yourself, it puts you in a unique position to provide a boost to your local economy. Even employing a staff of five is a great way to put money in people's pocket that they will hopefully spend at other small businesses. It's all connected.
A proactive step you can take to insure your small business will succeed would be to bring on a mentor. This might become one of the most beneficial business relationships you enter into. Here are some of the benefits of having a small business mentor:
They Can Spot the Weak Spots
Months (and sometimes years) before you "cut the ribbon" on your business, you'll put together a business plan. This becomes your operating manual. You'll pull in research, work out the numbers and leave no stone unturned. Or so you think. A business mentor can take one look at that plan and spot the weak spot. It will probably be something you never saw coming. That is what having a fresh perspective is all about.
"We tend to defend our beliefs aggressively, selectively choosing the data that reinforces what we think and explaining away, or outright ignoring the data that does not," writes Bonnie Reis for Inc. A business mentor will help uncover your undetected biases.
They Provide Amazing Insight for Franchises
A large portion of those small businesses are franchises. This is where you buy into a proven business model, follow the edicts of the parent company and watch the money roll in. At least, that is the goal. In reality, franchise businesses are fraught with equal amounts of peril.
Ciara Stockeland is the founder of MODE, a designer outlet store. What started as a high-end maternity store soon morphed into a second store that became the cornerstone of a franchise business. Ciara freely admits that without the advice of a mentor, she never would have gone down the franchise route. One of the elements she stresses on her franchise protégés is that "they need to be comfortable with very little freedom."
A franchise means you're buying into a proven concept. You're not going to sell pizza at your McDonald's restaurant. Ciara's mentorship to new franchise owners helps them go into the business with their eyes wide open. That is essential when it comes to riding out the ups and downs of a business.
They Challenge You to Be a Better Boss
Before you get to live through your own business horror stories, your mentor will have already been there and done that. They will be happy to share those moments when they stumbled, and things blew up all around them. That puts you on notice and helps challenge you to be a better boss. Nail that and you've got a good shot at success.
Finally, the great thing about getting help from a mentor is that someday soon you'll be inspired to pay it forward. You can become a mentor to the next business owner who is starting out. Like we said at the beginning of the article; it's all connected.